As your due date approaches, it’s natural to spend a lot of time and energy preparing for birth. It’s important to feel confident and in control as the big day approaches.

Today, let’s take your pre-birth preparation a step further. You can set yourself up for an easier postpartum experience and adjustment to life with a newborn by assembling your postpartum support systems now. There’s so much you can do ahead of time to make things go more smoothly when you come out on the other side.

What do I mean by postpartum support systems? Before birth, you should take some time to set up and think about your emotional support people, household supports (things like laundry, meals, and cleaning), and where to turn for breastfeeding support. As a bonus, we’ll cover the magic that is a postpartum doula and why you might love having one.

Some of this will involve some simple research, some will require coordination with friends and family, and some of it is stuff you can do ahead of time to make your life easier with a baby.

Below, we’ll break down the different areas of postpartum support to help you prepare for the transition into life with a newborn.

Emotional Support after birth

Taking the time to intentionally set up your emotional support system after birth is important. Sure, you might know your mom is going to come check in all the time, or that your neighbor down the road is someone you can always count on, but I want to challenge you to be even more intentional about it.

In my own experience, for the first 3-6 weeks after birth, I constantly had people calling or texting to see how I was doing or if I needed anything. With my permission we had many visitors come and bring food and stop in for quick visits, it was wonderful.

Then, after the 6(ish) week mark, people kind of forgot about it. It’s to no one’s fault; life gets busy and you didn’t just give birth anymore. Despite still being seriously in the throes of adjusting to life with a new baby other people start to fade away.

You can combat this by scheduling visits throughout your maternity leave, letting people know ahead of time you plan to lean on them, and even just asking people to check in on you at certain intervals if you know you are the kind of person that won’t reach out.

Emotional support from your partner

If you and your partner live together, this is a built-in support person that will be important during your postpartum journey. However, don’t take it for granted that they’ll know they need to support you emotionally.

My own husband did a fabulous job of keeping up with the house, taking care of the dogs and making sure I was physically comfortable, but he didn’t realize the power of just sitting next to me while I nursed the baby for what felt like the 1000th time that day. How his presence went so much further than preparing amazing meals and keeping the house decluttered.

Talk to your partner about the fact that you’ll be leaning on them to pick up the household slack, but that their emotional support and presence, simply being with you and the newborn, is something you will need and might not be able to express.

Emotional support from family and loved ones

Before your birth, try to make a list of the people in your life you can count on to provide real emotional support. People who can stop by and that you won’t have to entertain or clean-up for. The people in your life who will do anything for you, but will also know when you need space or they need to go. These are the people you want supporting you emotionally after birth.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking these people need to be local either. From afar, it can be someone you can call and cry to, complain to, or ask for advice. Nearby, it’s people who can drop in to give you a hug or let you shower, with no questions asked.

Hopefully, you can come up with at least 3-5 people you can count on for emotional support outside of your home.

New mother’s groups

Above, I mentioned that somewhere around the 6-week mark, people start to forget about you as a new mother. Society kind of expects you to have your act together by now (which is a total, yeah right for most mommas!) but other than your close support system, you’re kind of on your own.

The good news is; this might be when you start to have some confidence in getting out with your baby. Insert, new mother’s groups. These groups, often held at libraries, pediatrician offices, midwifery care centers, hospitals or community centers, can be an enormous source of emotional support for new mommas.

You’ll meet others in the same shoes as you. You’ll share stories of your latest parenting fails and successes, learn from each other, commiserate, and maybe even cry. I encourage you, even if you’ve never been the ‘support-group-type’ to try to make it to at least one new mother’s group in your area. You just might be surprised at what you find.

The importance of finding emotional support before you give birth, too

And before we leave the topic of emotional support during postpartum, be sure to lean on your loved ones for emotional support before you give birth as well. If this can’t come from family or loved ones, look for prenatal support groups or expecting mothers’ groups in your area to connect with other soon-to-be-mommas.

A fascinating study done at UCLA found that women who received strong social support during pregnancy had a significant decrease in their risk for postpartum depression.

Household support after birth

Ah. The conundrum of keeping up with the house, and by proxy your own sanity, after birth. We all know how important self-care is to our mental health. Your need for it is no different after having a baby. In fact, it’s crucial (in my opinion) for staying sane with a newborn. You know, things like eating healthy, showering, having clean clothes to wear, and a house that doesn’t look like a tornado came through.

To some extent, you have to let go of your house a little after birth, but there are postpartum supports you can put in place to keep it a little more together. So many well-intentioned people in your life want to help you after you have a baby but might not know how.

Let’s break it down into three big categories: laundry, cleaning, and meal prep.

Planning for laundry support after birth

For every new baby that you add to the mix, it feels like laundry triples. A lot of that is because babies, even newborns, are messy and unpredictable. Blow-outs and spit-up require not only their clothing is changed, but often blankets, sheets, burp cloths, and your clothes too.

Getting the laundry done in a manner that leaves you with clean items for you and baby can be exhausting right after giving birth. You can set-up some laundry support before the baby arrives to help with this. Here are some ideas:

  • Research pick-up laundry services in your area. If splurging on this isn’t in your budget, consider registering for gift certificates
  • Have friends sign up to help do your laundry. Okay, this might feel awkward to ask directly but have a friend or family member sponsor a “laundry train” for you. They can organize it in such a way that someone picks up laundry once every few days and returns it within a few hours, or if you are comfortable with it, they could do it in your home.
  • Less formally, when you do have visitors stop by who ask “what can I do to help”, be honest and get them flipping laundry or folding for you.

Keeping up with cleaning the house after having a baby

Similar to laundry, keeping the house tidy (let alone clean) can feel like a monumental task with a newborn around. Here are some ideas to help you set yourself up with a cleaner house postpartum:

  • Use disposable plates, napkins, and cutlery. I’m all for doing our part for the environment, but for at least a few weeks after baby arrives make your life easier with disposables.
  • Schedule a cleaning crew to come 2-3 times in the months after baby arrives. Give your postpartum self this gift. You’ll be glad it’s on the calendar and handled. This is another thing you can easily put on your registry.
  • Again, don’t be shy about asking visitors to help out. Have them take out the trash, load or unload the dishwasher, or run the vacuum if you need it.

Planning for meals postpartum

After you give birth, it’s very easy to fall into a trap of eating take-out or frozen food every night. By the end of the day, no one has the energy to put together a healthy meal. This can be even trickier if you have other kids to feed. Additionally, eating healthy and nourishing food is important for your milk supply.

Stock your own freezer with ready to eat meals before baby

You can get this done on your own or with your partner. Things like soups, stews, casseroles, Italian dishes, burritos, quick breads, and muffins can all be prepared ahead of time and frozen. There are a variety of resources out there to help you bulk cook and stock your freezer with dozens of meals in a short amount of time.

You can make this into a more social event by inviting a few friends over to help, or doing it with extended family members eager to help out before baby arrives.

Organize a meal train

Like the idea of having friends and family drop off a delicious homemade meal to you each day around dinner time? It’s actually not as weird as you may think. Meal trains are becoming more and more common as a way to help new mothers and families out after birth.

Usually, a friend will “host” your meal train by sharing the information with your friends and family. People then sign up for a specific date to drop dinner off to you. Typically, the receiving family leaves a cooler outside their front door for the meal to be left in. This isn’t about people visiting or you having to socialize, truly just a way to make your life easier.

How to set-up a meal train?

The website Meal Train lets people easily create a meal train calendar for you. The link can then be shared via email and social media for greater participation. Once someone sets up the meal train for you, don’t be shy about sharing your own meal train link with people your meal train “host” might not know.

You can also go more old-school if you have a close-knit office, church group, or other organization. In this case, you can pass around a calendar or sign-up sheet for people to choose a date and commit to bringing a meal.

Breastfeeding support after birth

So many mommas, especially first-time mommas, underestimate the challenges associated with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding comes with a steep learning curve for both momma and baby. It can feel frustrating, painful and lonely in the first days and weeks after birth. Utilizing support is crucial to getting your breastfeeding relationship started on the right foot and meeting your breastfeeding goals.

Once you get over the initial hurdle, it is an amazing experience. You can set yourself up for an easier transition into life as a nursing mother by researching breastfeeding support in your community before baby arrives. This way, you’ll know exactly where to turn if things aren’t going well, or you just want some reassurance.

Lactation Consultants

Find out what your insurance coverage is for visits with lactation consultants. From there, you can look up lactation consultants in your area that are in your network. This way, you’ll have their phone numbers at the ready should you need an appointment after birth.

Furthermore, some pediatrician offices have a lactation consultant on staff. This is a worthwhile question to ask when you are choosing a pediatrician for your newborn.

Find local breastfeeding support groups

Sometimes, even with insurance coverage, lactation consultants can be very expensive. It’s likely not necessary to spend a lot of money. I’ve seen lots of mommas make this mistake because they didn’t know of free resources in their community.

Often there are local breastfeeding support groups that are run by certified lactation consultants; you just need to know where to find them. Many hospitals hold breastfeeding support groups once per week, some pediatrician offices, community centers, and even local libraries. In my own community, all of these places hold a breastfeeding support group at least once a month.

Ask your midwife, doula, or future pediatrician for info on where to find free breastfeeding support. La Leche League International has chapters all over the world that offer free breastfeeding support. Find a leader or group near you using this search tool.

Spend time with other nursing mothers

This isn’t something you can necessarily plan ahead of time, but once baby arrives, try to spend time around other new nursing mothers. It is such a breath of fresh air to be able to commiserate and laugh about the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding.

After sorting out my daughter’s latch at a local support group run by an LC, I continued going every week just for the social aspect of being in a safe space, with other new, breastfeeding mommas.

Postpartum Doulas

What if I told you that there is a magic, fairy godmother that can come into your home after you have a baby and help with ALL of these things (and more?). Postpartum doulas do exactly that.

A postpartum doula is a hired professional that will support you emotionally and physically as you transition into motherhood or a growing family. Their goal is to do anything you need to help make your life easier as a new momma.

Most postpartum doulas help with laundry, light cleaning around the house and cooking. Many have extra certifications in breastfeeding so that they can help with this as well. They’ve also spent countless hours around new mothers and babies and can help you learn tricks of the trade when it comes to caring for a newborn.

While the decision is up to you for hiring a birth doula or postpartum doula, I’ve heard many women say their money was better spent on a postpartum doula vs. a birth doula. Though both of these can be amazing resources depending on your family and circumstances.

Make your postpartum journey a little easier, momma

While there is nothing you can do to predict what your newborn will be like, or how you will handle the adjustment to motherhood (or an additional little one) entirely, the advice in the article will make a difference. These aspects of life can be controlled and planned for with the right postpartum supports.

So do yourself a favor momma, and spend some time planning for after birth just as much as the actual birth day 😊

What’s one thing you plan to do to make your life a little bit easier after birth? Let us know in the comments below!

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